Conservationists complete purchase of Donner Lake property |

Conservationists complete purchase of Donner Lake property

The Associated Press

TRUCKEE, Calif. (AP) – Conservationists have completed the purchase of a 1,923-acre, forested ridgeline that forms the scenic backdrop to Donner Lake just west of this Sierra town.

With the help of a low-interest loan from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Trust for Public Land bought 750 acres of Schallenberger Ridge in April and the remaining 1,173 acres last week.

The property, valued at $3.1 million, was acquired from Croman Timber Corp. of Oregon.

The trust and Truckee Donner Land Trust hope to add nearly 2,500 acres, including the ridge, to Donner Memorial State Park over the next year.

”The same rugged skyline that greeted the early pioneers to California is now protected forever,” said Mary Nichols, secretary of the California Resources Agency. ”And as part of the (state park) it will be cared for and made available for the general public to enjoy.”

The 1,200-acre park along Interstate 80 attracts 150,000 visitors a year and commemorates the site of the tragic Donner Party of 1846-47.

Dozens of the covered-wagon pioneers starved to death and others resorted to cannibalism to survive after becoming stranded by heavy snow in the Sierra. Forty-two of the group’s 89 members died.

”Schallenberger Ridge is a major public resource,” said John Knott, superintendent of the state park system’s Sierra district. ”The property has outstanding vistas and natural features, and will be an absolutely wonderful addition to the state park system.”

Funding for the purchase will come from the state Habitat Conservation Fund, federal Land and Water Conservation Fund monies, and private sources.

About $1 million now will have to be obtained through local fund-raising efforts.

The purchase will extend public lands from Truckee to Donner Summit. Schallenberger Ridge is named for Moses Schallenberger, a member of the first party to take covered wagons over the Sierra – in 1844.

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